Unions: Need crack down on dodgy building tendering

Construction jobs will disappear and building standards will drop to third world levels if the NSW government doesn't investigate tender practices, a building union says.

The Construction Forestry Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) says 50,000 jobs will be lost from the state's construction industry, with workers migrating interstate because of dodgy tendering processes.

The CFMEU kicked off a campaign on Friday to collect 10,000 signatures on a petition calling for Premier Barry O'Farrell to launch an inquiry into tendering and payments.

Around 150 contractors including workers affected by the recent collapse of NSW builder Kell and Rigby, were the first to add their names to the campaign.

"From what has been happening since O'Farrell has been in government, over the next three months there will be 50,000 jobs lost in NSW," CFMEU spokesperson Brian Parker told AAP on Friday.

Kell and Rigby went into receivership in February, owing more than $35 million to about 500 businesses.

Building company Reed Construction is also experiencing financial difficulties, affecting payments to workers.

"It's not just about the fact that we've got large contractors going down, but we're also going to see 1500 small Australian businesses (affected), and it's going to cost 10,000 jobs," Parker told AAP.

"Workers don't see any continuity of employment based upon their employer not being paid.

"There's no security for them and their family and they don't see themselves having a future in this state.

"The mood is very very angry.

"This is going to force workers out of NSW - it's already happening."

Parker said the worst and most unscrupulous employers were winning tenders.

"If you're the lowest price you win the job, not based on quality, not based on assurance, not based on stability of the business."

Labor's industrial relations spokeswoman, Sophie Cotsis, and small business spokesman, Adam Searle, met with construction workers and sub-contractors at the campaign launch on Friday.

"Subcontractors in NSW deserve a fair go and the NSW opposition will fight to make sure they get it," Cotsis said in a statement.

"The O'Farrell government must act now to ensure that small businesses are not forced into bankruptcy as the result of the collapse of major construction firms like Kell and Rigby."

The CFMEU says the quality of construction in NSW will decline if the government does not intervene.

"You're going to find that the quality and assurance of work that's being completed is not going to be to any great standard," Parker said.

"We're going to end up with buildings that are the same quality as third world countries if we don't look at these issues."

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